I had researched various organizations before commencing my voyage to India. Though I do believe that travel can be spontaneous and unplanned, I think that when it comes to volunteering, proper research must be executed. There exists this "benevolent gratification" that many travelers are drawn to when it comes to going abroad and volunteering, however a lot of "aid" is not necessarily beneficial or productive. With that said, after much research, I picked two organizations to work with during my stay in India. One was with interest in alternative medicine (CHFI) and the other focused on modern medicine. I can say that with the comparison of the two, CFHI was undoubtedly the most engaging, dynamic, and nourishing organization that I've participated in. The locations were superb, as I got to work in the rural village of Patti, perfectly off the grid and secluded, which was therapeutic as much as it was mystifying and eye opening. Never did I think I would be in a tiny village at the foothills of the Himalayas, connecting with villagers like I did. We also had the pleasure of spending Diwali in Rishikesh, which was a natural paradise and truly one of my favorite places in the world. That area totally spoke to me as someone who is reflective and quite spiritual. Here we got to learn about natural healing with acupuncture, water therapy, mud therapy, and reflexology, as well as experience practicals from our instructors. It was magic. Finally we spent 2 weeks in Deradun where we got to live as medical students. This meant we took the bus to our rotations, which were actually quite encompassing (they took up the entire day) but in turn, extremely beneficial. I felt like I was getting what I asked for with medical volunteering. I learned about homeopathy, Ayurveda (with fabulous practicals), and speak with a 104 year old doctor for 2 weeks. It was such an amazing, moving opportunity. I really loved how thoughtful and easygoing our host family was, and our guide, Manyank was so elaborate with our entire experience. He took us to a wedding, taught us Hindi, helped us fabricate weekend plans, took us out to dinner, and had thanksgiving with us. I really miss him actually! I loved that yoga classes were included in the first 2 weeks of the program- it was the most immersion I've ever had in the practice. And honestly, with comparison to the other organization that I worked with, the material I learned through this program was invaluable. It was in depth, meaningful, impressive, and something that I share at any chance I get. The depth of the Ayurveda and homeopathy and alternative medicine that I learned was absolutely incredible. It truly means a lot to me, and has made me a more medically creative person. And the experiences I had during this program will always move me. India is in my bones now. I love this organization and what it does. I would 100% love to have the pleasure of working with CFHI again!
My experience with CFHI Ghana was great! The local institutions I worked with were clearly accustomed to having visiting students and their familiarity allowed for my experience with them to be productive for both me and them. The individuals I worked with at these institutions did a solid job of incorporating me into their team by delegating clear discrete tasks to me which made me feel like a valued member of the team.
The CFHI local coordinators went out of their way to ensure that I was well settled and checked in frequently about ways my experience could be improved in real time. The country director was also clearly invested in participants having the most meaningful experience possible and made arrangements to this effect. I am already thinking about my next global health experience with CFHI!
I am a second-year medical student and I went to Accra, Ghana through the CFHI program ( https://www.facebook.com/ChildFamilyHealthInternational/)!
I rotated in the ER department and was able to round with the fifth-year medical students from Accra College of Medicine and Family Health Medical School. On my first day I rounded with the fifth-year medical students and I was terrified and intimidated. The way they presented, answered the doctor’s questions and interrogations on details about their cases, and dissected their differentials was astounding. With only one year of medical school under my belt, I felt useless and unknowledgeable compared to them. However, I tried to stay as engaged as I could, listening to patients’ hearts and lungs, interpreting x-rays and EKGs, and perfecting the craft of the history and physical exam. This coming year we’ll learn more about chronic illnesses and management, so I’ll be able to deepen my clinical knowledge and skills.
I was happy that I was able to recognize a lot of drug names since Pharm is one of my favorite classes and could ask questions about treatment plans and care management. Most of the pediatric cases were acute tonsillitis, acute otitis media, bronchopneumonia, bronchiolitis, and complications of sickle cell disease (SCD). I was able to see an infant that was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 aka Down syndrome and had a heart murmur. I was also able to see a patient that had a palpable thrill and murmur. I sat in on my first Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) meeting and learned a lot about that part of medical care. I also participated in various lectures on proper handwashing skills, stages and treatment of malnutrition, how to properly clean the umbilical cord postpartum, triaging, and common respiratory/cardiovascular diseases in children.
One of the most memorable days was when I clerked with one of the fifth-year medical students. His partner wasn’t coming till the afternoon, so I was there to make sure he asked all of the right questions. We exchanged mnemonics on the history of present illness (we learned OLDCARTS and he learned SOCRATES) and social history. I quickly jotted down all the aspects of the history that should be asked and felt grateful that my school had forced us to create our own SOAP note from scratch countless times. He was grateful that I was able to ensure he asked all of the necessary questions. Our main differential was Vaso-occlusive crisis as a complication of SCD. Our other differentials were osteomyelitis and cellulitis. Both doctors ended up supporting our top differential and it felt good to be able to come up with the correct diagnosis. The child also had otitis media but we weren’t sure if it was secondary to the SCD since they are more prone to infections, or independent of the SCD.
All in all I learned a lot this week, more than I ever thought I would and I’m so excited to rotate in other parts of the hospital. This experience is strengthening my desire to go into Family Medicine even more apparent and necessary.
I just returned from my second internship abroad with Child Family Health International (CFHI). The first was as a premedical student to Ecuador (Urban/Rural Comparative Health) for 10 weeks, and this most recent was as a 4th year medical student to Argentina (Hospital Medicine in Latin America) for 4 weeks. My rotation in Argentina was also supported by a scholarship through CFHI and the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). My first experience was so positive and meaningful that I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to do a second program with CFHI. I really stand behind their organization, I love that they provide learning experiences for students and health-professionals across the entire spectrum of your educational journey. They emphasize using traveling to learn from your host country and “letting the world change you” (not the other way around). You are there to learn and absorb from your host culture, which I think is the most sustainable and responsible form of travel/volunteerism.
After returning from my program in Argentina, I feel ready to start my career as a physician. My confidence in medical Spanish has been boosted over the last month working in the hospital and taking Spanish classes through CFHI and I now feel capable of providing competent care to my Spanish- speaking patients. I also feel privileged to have had the opportunity to learn about a healthcare system outside my own. It has made me more aware of how other countries structure their health care system, prioritize health care delivery, and provide care to their patients. Having this experience will make me a better physician. I’m grateful to CFHI and the AMSA for mediating this experience, for all the wonderful doctors I worked with in Argentina, and for each and every patient I have had the honor of taking care of.
I was granted the wonderful opportunity to attend a week-long Spanish Intensive & Healthcare Seminar in Oaxaca, Mexico with Child Family Health International (CFHI) in April. In the short months I’ve experienced as a first year medical student at GW, I’ve quickly realized that global health strongly draws me in, and I’m so grateful to CFHI for providing me with the opportunity to explore this interest further. My week in Oaxaca was full of vibrant colors, melodious words previously unknown to me, flavorful foods, kind patients, and the welcoming smiles of caring and hardworking health professionals. I learned a lot about the healthcare system in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico, and even got to sit in on a ground rounds organized for the medical students of the region!
My learning of conversational Spanish was accompanied by the medical Spanish I was taught both in private lessons, and at the healthcare facilitates I rotated through. My week was full of interesting encounters with patients. At Hospital Carmen, I observed the management of an elderly woman who presented with an MI. I interviewed and examined an OB patient at Centro de Salud Ejido Guadalupe Victoria. At Hospital Civil, I shadowed as a lumbar puncture was performed on a gentleman with altered mental status. My experiences in Oaxaca armed me with so much knowledge but also left me wanting much more when it comes to global medicine. I’m excited to be embarking on a new global health journey in Cordoba, Argentina this summer with CFHI again!
Blessing of Baba” is the driving force in our lives.
Started with baby steps and now with the support of many like minded people we are running two schools for underprivileged children.
Being associated with them for more than ten years, we followed series of steps to convince them about education and its importance. http://saikapyar.in
In February I traveled to Accra, Ghana and worked in Princess Marie Louise, a Pediatric hospital partnering with Child Family Health International. The attending physicians, residents and staff were happy to have us and worked to make our experience as fourth year medical students rewarding and professionally enriching. The in-country staff described the many ways CFHI helps to support the work of the hospital, including contributing to a needy fund for patients and fixing equipment in the facility. This gave me confidence that my program fee was well spent. CFHI coordinators also worked to make sure we had a fun and safe experience. The CFHI home team in San Fran followed up with us on our experience when we got back to the US. I recommend the program to those interested in learning more about West Africa and seeing how medicine is practiced in resource-challenged settings.
This was a great program. Everything was very organized and structured so that I didn't have to worry about not knowing where I was supposed to be at any given moment. There were many points of contact throughout the whole process. From being picked up at the airport, adequate knowledge about the program from the host family, tour of the city and public transportation on the first day, coordination of hospital sites and physicians, the whole process was very seamless. Quito is a very easy city to navigate with great and cheap public transportation. Uber is also very cheap there. There are also lots of weekend trips that can be done to explore more of Ecuador. The rotations were all interesting and educational, with physicians teaching in between seeing patients. You get to work in a maternity hospital ER, adolescent pregnancy clinic, postpartum floor, outpatient clinics, and labor and delivery. I felt that the Spanish classes were excellent especially since there were only 4 students or so in each class. I would recommend this program!
As I move into my 4th week in Kabale, I’ve definitely gotten a taste of what it’s like to live in Uganda – at least from the perspective of a muzungu (foreigner). On a typical day, I’ll wake up early and go for a jog around a local golf course up the hill from the apartments. Lots of local people jog there too! I’ve made it up to 5 miles of mountainous jogging at a high elevation, which I think will serve me well when I go back to Texas. We’ll typically have breakfast of chapatti and eggs, a combination Ugandans call “Rolex”. It’s so delicious I’ll definitely be craving it when I get back home. Most of our meals are served by Patricia, who’s in charge of the Kihefo apartments. She also makes fabulous peanut butter, which I can bring home for some friends if they wish.
I am a fourth-year medical student who traveled to Argentina. I was able to go abroad after receiving the Child Family Health International (CFHI)/American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Scholarship. The program I participated in was a 2-week hospital medicine intensive Spanish course in Cordoba, Argentina in February 2019. I am originally from South Florida, but I go to medical school in Orlando, FL
I loved my CFHI experience in Argentina. The hospital time was interesting and Spanish classes were helpful for improving my Spanish. The other students on the trip were all from the states, but I have heard that during some months they are from all over the world. The city was beautiful. The accommodations sufficient (with my host mom being an excellent cook and good conversation). I loved rooming with two other students in the program and we all practiced Spanish with our host family over dinner. I wish I stayed longer!!!!
I chose the CFHI program that was held in Tarija, Bolivia that focused on primary care and rural medicine. So far, my experience with the CFHI program has been phenomenal! I have been fortunate enough to travel to another country to learn and understand their healthcare system and become immersed in their culture. Aside from clinical/hospital rotations that were part of the program, other participants and I were able to learn more about the city, culture and became friends with the locals.
One of the components of the program that I would like to highlight is the CFHI team both in the country interned in and the one back at home. They were able to help and answered our questions in a timely manner. What I also enjoyed about this program, is that it built a community within the participants and the medical coordinators. CFHI continued this community feel even after the program was completed through them continually reaching out to the program alumni. Therefore, those who are looking/interested in getting valuable experience while abroad I recommend CFHI. They will work with you to have a memorable experience while abroad, especially if you let the “world change you.”
I came across CFHI as a pre-med student - I wasn't sure what branch of medicine I wanted to study. All I knew was that I was interested in traditional medicine and women's health, and that I liked traveling. I approached their table at a pre-health conference and was insistently drawn into a rich conversation with them. My eyes were immediately opened by CFHI who taught me what global health entails, such as the social determinants of health and the importance of approaching a trip as a learner and observer of the local culture. Being aware of cultural boundaries. Responsible and ethical partnerships. After doing my research, I realized that these values were not common in other abroad programs. I decided that a trip with CFHI would lead to my personal, academic, and professional development and signed up.
Besides the obvious integrity of CFHI, what drew me to CFHI and continues to impress me is the genuine personal attention and sincere compassion towards their students. CFHI is a small organization, and it shows in their student interactions and intimate communication. I felt completely supported throughout the entire process. They want to help their students and make it easy. They encouraged me to apply for a scholarship, with fully funded my trip. The application process was straightforward, as it should be.
CFHI is furthermore unique among other "study/volunteer/work abroad" organizations because of its individual focus. Rather than joining a trip 'slot', you decide where you want to go, what focus you want to have, what specific clinics you want to shadow at, when you want to embark, and for how long. It is totally catered to make it worthwhile for the student, while also assuring the highest quality ethical partnerships with locals. Each day consists of a medical aspect and a cultural aspect, reinforcing the idea that health is more than just the doctor-patient dynamic.
My 6 week trip in Oaxaca, Mexico focused on Women and Maternal Medicine, Midwifery, Indigenous Medicine transformed me, and now I am pursuing to be an OB-GYN, a profession I never would have chosen if it weren't for the eye-opening perspectives I got from my CFHI trip. And for that I am forever grateful. Thanks CFHI for all the opportunities and integrity you are putting into the world.
As a student, I have to complete a field experience in order to graduate. I had already completed the requirements for field experience but wanted to learn more about maternal health. So when I found at that Child Family International had a program dedicated to HIV and Maternal Health, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. I had the honor to receive a scholarship from CFHI which allowed me to go to Uganda. I chose CFHI because of their message of sustainable and ethical methods when sending students overseas. There are many volunteer programs out there but none with such a strong message. In the pre-departure packet, CFHI has students read about cultural competency, volunteerism, and even discussed the savior complex.
The program itself was an amazing experience. CFHI has a partnership with a local Kegezi clinic called Kihefo. The clinic has many departments so students who don't necessarily want to focus just on maternal health have the opportunity to shadow different departments. There is a dental clinic, an HIV/AIDS clinic, a maternal clinic, and a general practice clinic. As an aspiring midwife, I loved going to the maternal health clinic. There I learned how to measure/record a fetal heartbeat, measure how far along a baby is, and common complications. A big highlight for me was watching a live birth. It was amazing and something I would never forget.
The living conditions were very good. We received three meals a day and a water bottle for each meal. The Kihefo apartments are quite nice. There is not hot water all the time but it was totally worth it. The staff here is excellent and everyone is very supportive. I would caution LGBTQA+ students as this is a conservative country that is not that open to students from different sexualities. There are of course students from these backgrounds who did not experience any type of discrimination and harassment but it is important to note. Overall, this was a good experience.
I came into my experience with Child Family Health International thinking that I would get some hands-on healthcare experience that would make me a better healthcare professional in the future. I came out of it with a new perspective on what health means and a trip that - although different than I was expecting and not "hands-on" - will truly make me a better, more culturally conscious and stronger global citizen and health advocate.
Through CFHI, I learned to question my perspective and learn from local experts. I learned that health is not only the classes I took, the biological processes I studied or the hospitals I was familiar with, it is social, it is personal and it looks different to each of us. Healthcare in India is something that I am by no means an expert in, which is why I was refreshed that CFHI fosters a learning environment where participants are learners and local experts are teachers, guiding students through the intricacies of global health and social determinants of healthcare in different environments.
Participating in the CFHI program in Delhi and Dehradun, India broadened my horizon and opened my mind to what it means to provide quality health care around the world, and I am forever grateful. Thank you CFHI!
I went to Ecuador through the Child Family Health International Intensive Beginner Spanish and Health Care Program. Child Family Health International programs are inter-professional and open to students ranging from undergraduate pre-health students up to residents and post-graduate students.
The Intensive Beginner Spanish Program is unique in that participants begin with service-learning placements rather than clinical rotations. In this program, I received increased Spanish language instruction in preparation for entering healthcare settings. In the mornings, I did community engagement projects and learned about the cultural and social context of Quito before entering the hospitals. One whole month seemed like a long time to be away when I was preparing for my trip, but the time actually flew by. We spent every morning during the week working in the clinic or hospital, and rotated to a different site each week. The last two weeks, focused on practicing Spanish skills during clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities such as community level clinics on the outskirts of the city serving low-income populations and specialized emergency care. Other rotations included a public maternity hospital for high-risk pregnancies. I came away with more confidence communicating in Spanish within social and professional settings, as well as a holistic view of healthcare systems in Quito and how Ecuadorians access these services. A typical weekday I would get up around 5:30am to get to the hospital or clinic by 7am. I would work in the hospital or clinic until 12pm. All of the students had a 2 hour lunch break, and then classes began at 2pm. All Spanish classes were 2 hours: one hour of grammar and one hour of medical vocabulary.
The first two weeks I was at The Camp Hope Foundation. Camp Hope provides services in health, rehabilitation, special education, and recreation, work for children, adolescents, young people and adults with a severe disability, with few economic resources, orphans and abandoned children in order for them to achieve independence and integration within society. Their objective is “To contribute to the comprehensive development of children, adolescents, young people and adults with a severe and moderate disability, involving the community and their families in the process.” Camp Hope organizes agreements with medical centers throughout Quito in order to support participants medically at a low cost. At the Hope Camp, I worked with nurses and physical therapist to help children with severe mental and physical disabilities. I was able to work one on one with kids doing physical therapy, sensory exercises, and music therapy.
Hospital IESS is teaching hospital, located in the northern part of Quito, that receives funding from the government and other civil organizations. It provides primary, secondary and tertiary care at low cost. In Ecuador, all people have access to free healthcare, but there is a great disparity between the quality of facilities available to the wealthy and to the poor. I worked alongside medical students and residents in the emergency room general trauma area. I participated in morning rounds, general consults, and follow-up treatment. In all of the public sites that I worked, doctors repeatedly told me that certain things weren't available, because there was no money. This was most evident my last week in the maternity hospital. Patients in labor did not have sheets or pillows on their beds.
At Hospital IESS I was in the Emergency Department with Dr. Julian Cadena. I worked alongside the Ecuadorian 5th year medical students and nurses. I observed a variety of small procedures, and as the week progressed I got to do small tasks on my own. When a patient would come in I would take the patient history and evaluate their pain level. I also learned how to take and read electrocardiograms. This was one of my favorite parts of the experience. I was surprised that neither the doctors nor nurses use gloves while treating patients; thankfully I brought my own gloves. The last week I was at Centro de Salud Carcelen Bajo which is a small local health clinic. My experience here was much less hands on. I observed Dr. Monica working with pregnant mothers and their babies. I did taking blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and other vital signs.
Going to Ecuador I was nervous that the career I aspired for, would not be a good fit for me. I did not know if I could keep up with the high intensity of critical care nursing. However, I now know that I am on the right track pursuing a career in nursing. I also now have a much broader world perspective and understand that there are many more ways to regard life than the way we do in America. Ecuadorians had a way of embracing life that was thrilling and refreshing. Reproductive Health in Quito combined my medical interests with the opportunity to improve my Spanish skills, which will be very valuable as I move forward with my career. I feel that this program added a vital dimension to my medical education.
Willing to help
Wonderful staff who were happy to help and impressively supportive from the get-go.
This is also one of the only organisations I found that made an intentional and significant focus of re-investing back into the elective community which is a rare gem and made a strong impression.
Looking forward to a great experience with them next year. Couldn't recommend them enough.
I had a wonderful experience working with CFHI. I went abroad to Ecuador for 1 month doing a Spanish immersion program. I really enjoyed my clinical experience as I know many of the other students did as well. They were very flexible making sure that our clinical experience met our needs and expectations. The spanish classes were also very helpful. For the first two weeks we were at a foundation for children with cerebral palsy and this was so amazing. We thought we would be just playing with the kids and feeding them but it turns out that much of the staff and kids needed general physicals so we had the opportunity to help with that. The doctors there are great teachers and we learned so much. The healthcare system is of course much different and it is great to have some many patient people willing to teach. I would definitely recommend this program to students looking to study abroad!
My month completing CFHI’s Child and Social Determinants of Health program in Accra, Ghana moved so quickly, as it was filled with so many exciting moments both in the clinic and in the country. Not only did I expand my knowledge on a medical level but on a cultural level as well. From seeing elephants 10 feet away while on safari to observing the biggest umbilical hernia I have ever seen, there has not been a dull moment. Reflecting back, I have learned so much that I believe will make me not only a better doctor, but a better person as well. Although Ghana is a developing country, it is humbling to be in a place with fewer resources than the US and see how other people live around the world. It was also an important learning experience to meet people in a nation that was colonized and whose people suffered terrible injustices.
This experience has improved my medical knowledge and will remain a formative part of my medical education. The prevelance of certain diseases is very different in Ghana compared to US, so I was able to see and learn about a number of pathologies that are less common at home. So many important public health programs are in their infancy here in Ghana. I believe it is helpful to see how systems and resources develop overtime and to understand what they came from. I also learned about the power of patient education. No matter how many medications you provide or the number of times you see a patient, teaching parents why these things are important is the only long term way to improve the health of a child. From HIV management to the prevention of malnutrition, money may be a barrier to improved health but the ultimate challenge is due to a lack of education. This emphasizes the importance of doctors working hand in hand with the entire medical community, social work and public health to educate patients. Overall, this was an amazing and humbling learning experience that I would recommend to all!
It’s interesting how I entered into CFHI’s Public Health and Community Medicine program in New Delhi with a number of assumptions, both concerning study abroad programs and the country of India. At the end of the program, however, I stood corrected. CFHI’s sweet yet concise motto states, “Let the world change you”, and how appropriate. The two-week intensive program provided me with both an educational and cultural understanding of the public health system and in the context of India’s vibrant and dynamic culture. Given the nature of short-term study abroad programs, CFHI allowed me the opportunity and the means to delve into the most challenging issues that exist concerning global medicine, and in a professional and ethical, but above all, meaningful approach. As a young and aspiring pre-medical student, I can state with much confidence that I have been changed.
This past fall, I spent 6 weeks in Ecuador through CFHI’s Coast to Rainforest: Community Health program. I loved the comparative nature of this program in that I was able to shadow in clinics in Guayaquil, Puyo, and Quito. Every week was different in terms of the size of the clinic/hospital and the types of patients I was interacting with. I had the chance to provide education about mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue and Zika in a community in Guayaquil through the SNEM program. In Puyo, I was able to learn more about rural and indigenous health as well. One of the unique components of this experience was visiting the San Virgilio indigenous community in the Amazon. They were so welcoming and happy to share their culture and knowledge of medicinal plants with us.
Overall CFHI takes a lot of care into putting together a program that fits your interests and time. Both the local and main staff in the US are incredibly helpful and attentive when any problem arises while you are abroad. In addition, CFHI’s dedication to ethical global health programs is evident in both the training provided to students before leaving and the close interaction with community members and local health care providers abroad. This program is a great opportunity to learn more about healthcare in South America, meet new people, and experience a new culture.
The first day of arrival was exciting yet overwhelming. Arriving at 5 am, I was worried I would have no way to get to my homestay. Yet I am glad that the program coordinators had arranged a pick-up time from the airport to a hostel until later in the morning. Charly (local coordinator) picked me up and took me to my homestay where my hostess was wonderful and a source of information of the city. Getting lost in the city was intimidating but Carlos (program coordinator) and Charly make the transition easier and educated us in the culture, language, what and where to eat, our schedules, and hospital location and rotations. Truly well organized and made the transition much easier.
I was assigned to Cordoba hospital and I chose the burn unit because it uses different specialties such as dermatology, and post-op care to treat and manage a burned patient. Dr. Olmos showed me around and taught me many things she felt were important in the recovery room. I can tell that the physicians I interacted with had a personal connection with patients and spoke to them like family. Everyday, majority of patients and doctors pass by a hallway that has the words written in Spanish "No perder la humalidad" meaning "do not lose your humanity" and the words do inspire providers to do their best for their patient's best interest in managing care. Overall, it was a truly humbling experience, and yet two weeks in Cordoba was not enough and I yearned to stay longer. Knowing the Spanish language does help and being able to communicate with others is amazing. I could never speak in Spanish with anyone other than my family and speaking my mother tongue felt great. I thank CFHI commitment and mission for helping me participate in this wonderful journey.
Here is my blog: https://cfhihospitalmedicineinargentina.wordpress.com/